2005-07-22 / Community

Abandoned Firehouse Burns In Squatter Fire

By Howard Schwach

Fire marshals are speculating that an all-hands fire that destroyed the interior of the abandoned firehouse at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 56 Street on Wednesday was the work of squatters who had been living in the unused building.

Eyewitnesses who saw smoke coming form the brick building told firefighters that they saw at least two men running from the building when the fire began.

The eyewitnesses called the 911 emergency system and firefighters from the new firehouse on Beach 43 Street and Edgemere Avenue responded to their old home to put out the fire. Because there was inflammable material left inside the building, a all-hands call was transmitted and a number of additional units responded.

The new, state-of-the-art facility that houses both the fire department and the emergency medical service ambulances, was opened last October.

Fire officials say that no decision has yet been made on whether the old building would be demolished or renovated. The Rock Ambulance Corps, a local volunteer service, has been negotiating with the city for the space for some months.

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